Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Passes Amendment to Protect Essential Air Service for Rural Communities in Hawai‘i

July 30, 2020
Press Release
Washington, DC—Today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) spoke in the House of Representatives during debate on the annual government funding bill addressing transportation matters to urge Congress to pass her amendment to protect essential air service which is vital to her second Congressional district. 
The measure passed by voice vote and will now be included in the overall bill, set for a vote tomorrow. The full transcript of her remarks follow:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I rise in support of this en bloc and my amendment that's included in it.
“Speaking on behalf of our rural communities that face many challenges in making sure that goods and services are accessible to residents and small businesses and that they actually remain affordable.
“Communities like mine are no different, where in many cases air travel, island by island, is the only means of access available. For things whether it’s like medical appointments, visiting family, getting to school, communities, local business needs, and more, air travel is a lifeline.
“A national one-size-fits-all regulation on essential air service fails to acknowledge our unique travel needs and geographic realities.
“This amendment extends protections for communities in Hawai‘i and Pennsylvania that Congress has long recognized and ensures our rural populations maintain access to critical transportation resources.
“This is a bipartisan effort that eliminates the cost sharing requirement and makes sure that our local communities in rural areas remain connected. I urge support for this amendment and I yield back.”
Background: Since the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, and concurrently thereafter in every appropriations bill, essential air service communities within 40 miles from the nearest small airport hub are required to enter into a local cost-share agreement with the federal government for a new essential air service contract. Subsequently, after passage of this requirement through Congress, USDOT issued regulations that required local sources must account for at least 5% of the subsidy. This required the local community to find funds to meet the local-cost sharer requirement. Today’s amendment removes this requirement.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard introduced similar legislation with former Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and Rep. Don Young (AK-at large) in 2018.
About Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawai‘i’s Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee. She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, and prior to that at age 21, was elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in 2002, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for over 17 years, is a veteran of two Middle East deployments, and continues to serve as a Major. Learn more about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard...
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